Erna Berger German soprano 1900-1990

Erna Berger German soprano 1900-1990

Erna Berger (19 October 1900 – 14 June 1990) was a German lyric coloratura soprano. She was best known for her Queen of the Night and her Konstanze.

Erna Berger German soprano 1900-1990

Career 

Born in Dresden, Germany, Berger spent some years as a child in India and South America. She lived there later on as well, working as a clerk and a piano teacher, before borrowing enough money for the trip back to Germany. At age 26, she secured a position as a soubrette soprano at the Semperoper in Dresden and had her first success as Hannele in Paul Graener’s opera Hanneles Himmelfahrt  based on Gerhart Hauptmann’s play The Assumption of Hannele. She later held leading positions at the Vienna State Opera, the Berlin State Opera, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin. She gave concerts in Japan, the United States, and Australia.

Her discography features complete recordings of Die Zauberflöte (as the Queen of Night, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, 1937–38, for EMI), and Rigoletto, with Jan Peerce and Leonard Warren, conducted by Renato Cellini (1950) which was the first complete opera recording (with a few minor cuts) made in the United States by RCA Victor for commercial release on the then-new LP format. 

Berger appeared at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1949/50 and 1950/51 seasons, in Der Rosenkavalier (opposite Eleanor Steber and Risë Stevens, conducted by Fritz Reiner and directed by Herbert Graf), Rigoletto (with Warren, then Enzo Mascherini), Die Zauberflöte, and Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Giuseppe Valdengo). She also sang Woglinde and the Waldvogel in Der Ring des Nibelungen, with Kirsten Flagstad and Helen Traubel alternating as Brünnhilde.

She sang the role of Zerlina in the 1954 Salzburg Festival production of Don Giovanni conducted by Wilhelm Furtwängler, released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon. As an interpreter of Lieder, she often performed with the German pianist Sebastian Peschko.

Later years and death 

At 60 years of age, she left the stage and taught as a professor in Hamburg and Essen, where she died in 1990, aged 89. She was buried at the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna. In 1992, the Bästleinstraße in Dresden was renamed the Erna-Berger-Straße in her honour.

Selected filmography 

  • Schlußakkord (1936)
  • Ave Maria (1936, staging of La traviata)
  • Maria Ilona (1939)
  • Opera Ball (1939, vocals) 
  • Falstaff in Vienna (1940)
  • The Swedish Nightingale (1941, vocals)
  • Whom the Gods Love (1942)
  • Immensee (1943, vocals)
  • The Marriage of Figaro (1949, vocals for Susanna)
  • Don Giovanni (1955, directed by Paul Czinner, as Zerlina)

Bibliography 

  • Erna Berger: Die singende Botschafterin [The Singing Ambassadress], by Karla Höcker, Rembrandt Verlag, 1961.

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Her discography features complete recordings of Die Zauberflöte (as the Queen of Night, conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham, 1937-38, for EMI), and Rigoletto, with Jan Peerce and Leonard Warren, conducted by Renato Cellini (1950) which was the first complete opera recording (with a few minor cuts) made in the United States by RCA Victor for commercial release. It is also the first complete opera ever released on long-playing (LP) records.
Her main focus remained on the stage after the war as well where she was active till 1954. After her retirement she appeared at recitals time and again.
The singer and actress Erna Berger became a greatly soprano singer in the 30s. To her most successful classic parts belong “La Traviata”, “Die Zauberflöte”, “Rigoletto”, “La Bohème” and “Die Entführung aus dem Serail”.
At age 26, she secured a position as a soubrette soprano at the Semperoper in Dresden. She later held leading positions at the Vienna State Opera, the Berlin State Opera, and the Deutsche Oper Berlin.
Berger also gave concerts in Japan, the United States, and Australia.
She began her career with singing lessons in Dresden by Melitta Hirzel.
Born in Dresden, Germany, Berger spent some years as a child in India and South America. She lived there later on as well, working as a clerk and a piano teacher, before borrowing enough money for the trip back to Germany.
Her breakthrough followed in 1926 with an engagement at the Staatsoper in Dresden where she had her first success in “Hanneles Himmelfahrt”. In the next years followed engagements at many important State Operas like Vienna and Berlin and finally she toured around the work, e.g. Japan, Australia, Africa and America.
At 60 years of age, she left the stage and taught as a professor in Hamburg and Essen, where she died in 1990.
Berger appeared at the Metropolitan Opera during the 1949/50 and 1950/51 seasons, in Der Rosenkavalier (opposite Eleanor Steber and Risë Stevens, conducted by Fritz Reiner and directed by Herbert Graf), Rigoletto (with Warren, then Enzo Mascherini), Die Zauberflöte, and Il barbiere di Siviglia (with Giuseppe Valdengo).

More to read

Wikipedia In English

Bach Cantatas

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